Signed to a minor league deal before Spring Training, C.J. Cron turned into arguably the biggest threat in the Colorado Rockies‘ lineup last season. The first baseman returns in 2022 on a two-year deal looking to build off that success.
In his first season in purple, Cron had a career year at age 31. He set career highs in several offensive categories including RBI (92), batting average (.281), OPS (.905), hits (132), runs (70), doubles (31), walks (60), and total bases (249). His 28 home runs were two off his career-best 30 and his 130 OPS+ was the best mark of his career for any season in which he played more than 13 games.
While he not only set career highs with the Colorado Rockies in 2021 but, in many cases, blew away his old marks, Cron has always been a dangerous hitter when he’s remained healthy enough to see regular at-bats. The offensive outburst we saw last year shouldn’t have been much of a surprise. Though he missed essentially all of 2020 with an injury, his last three full seasons have been remarkably consistent.
C.J. Cron has been a very good hitter in his last three full seasons.
In 2018, C.J. Cron hit 30 home runs and drove in 74 RBI in 140 games for the Tampa Bay Rays. In 2019, he hit 25 home runs and drove in 78 runs in 125 games for the Minnesota Twins. In 2021, he hit 28 home runs and drove in 92 in 142 games for the Colorado Rockies.
So even though last season may have been a career year for the veteran slugger, it was certainly no fluke and there’s no reason not to expect him to hit 25-30 home runs and drive in 70-100 RBI again in 2022 so long as he can stay healthy.
Cron’s electric second half of the season (18 home runs, 63 RBI, .303 batting average) helped the Rockies to quietly put together a record above .500 in their final 81 games of the season. With that kind of success, will they chose to keep him around to transition through their rebuild?
Or if the team continues to struggle in 2022, will they trade him for future help? It’s worth noting that his trade value will be higher if the National League adopts the DH as has been speculated.
In the end, probably the most surprising thing about Cron’s season in 2021 is that the Rockies were able to pick him up so cheaply on a minor league deal. He’s played for four teams (Tampa Bay, Minnesota, Detroit, Colorado) the last four years but appears to have found a home in Colorado, at least for the time being.